Highlighting Daily Faithfulness

My mother had an older brother who died when I was a toddler. Growing up, my parents would sometimes talk about Uncle Vicente. I knew about the accident in which he died.

I also knew from them how he lived. How much he loved music and to play his guitar. How hard-working he was. How he liked to tease. How infectious his joy was. I also knew he was almost blind.

Surgery didn’t help. He wore thick glasses, but still only managed to barely see. Uncle Vicente and his brother, my Uncle Daniel, took over a health food store the same year I was born. They sold natural products and fresh whole wheat bread baked daily. During that time, they stayed with my parents who lived several blocks away from the store. One evening, Uncle Vicente walked from the store to the house to tell my mom he’d be home late because he was waiting for the bread to finish baking. She was five months pregnant and home alone. He didn’t want her to worry.

Back at the store, he sat down in the back room alone to have his supper when his chair slipped, and he hit the inventory shelf which stocked jars of syrup and other products. The jars crashed and shattered.

He couldn’t leave cleaning it to the morning because it’d be opening time, and the back would have to be clean. But he also couldn’t see. So to make sure the glass was completely swept up, he used his hands to feel for the shards. In the morning, my mother saw his bandaged hands, and he told her what had happened. Why hadn’t he come to get her? She would have helped.

Every few years I remember that story and my heart cuts. I wish I could be there to help him sweep up. I think of losing sight and making the way through streets and through life seeing only silhouettes, and I wish I could have been his eyes. And I wish I could balm my own mother’s heart, who is left with only memories of a sibling with whom she should have had decades more.

Today on my way home from grocery shopping, this memory popped into my head. What usually happens when my heart is heavy with memories of loved ones who are gone, or when I read about daily injustice, or just the state of this world in general, is I find myself whispering prayers.

“Oh God…just come soon. Just end this world. Take us home, please. Whatever I can do to lessen the suffering, whatever I can do to hasten Your coming, show me.”

Sometimes that trail of thinking leads me to believe I’d be willing to live in remote places, dedicate my life to teaching, going to foreign fields. But today I stopped myself and chuckled. What makes me think I could do all of that when I fail so often here at home?

In a way, it seems easier to make big sacrifices. You get support from outsiders, you get acknowledgment that what you’re doing is worthy, noble. You may even get obvious results: churches built, patients healed, the good news spread.

Giving one’s life to missions, dedicating time to aid, giving resources to teach are all worthy and those who do this should be encouraged. And, yes, God will equip those who are willing, no matter how failing they are.

But sometimes we forget to highlight the dying daily. How often do we consider our daily choices as powerful tools for the hastening of His kingdom? How often do we consider those who spend their lives teaching, preaching, reaching, as the ones responsible, without considering our own part through how we live?

We have our part to play. And we have to play it every single minute. When we eat, dress, speak, share, think on the Kingdom, that’s when we are preparing for it and playing an active part in hastening its coming.

Not all of us are called to big sacrifice. Our role is to bind up the hearts and wounds, to be the eyes to the blind, to comfort those in our families, churches, communities through the way we live. Through every step, act, word.

It’s a work often over-looked and taken for granted by others and ourselves. But every private decision, every unseen nicety and good thought is observed and written down. These are the powerful agencies that accumulate to bring Heaven nearer.

Encouragement to the self-sacrificing men and women who make this world a better place are merited and ought to continue. But this week, I challenge you to observe in at least one person something they are doing to bring Heaven to this Earth. Maybe it’s the meals they prepare, the hospitality they extend, the ready smile, the way they dress, the way they speak.

Look for how the people around you are hastening His kingdom and acknowledge them. Let’s become inspired to, through daily tasks, do our part to bring Heaven a little bit closer, because my goodness if ever that was needed it’s now.

Why You Should Unfollow Me

If you follow me on Instagram you might know by now that I’m big on “intentionality”. Especially when it comes to social media.

Social media is great. It can bring people closer, inspire, foster community, teach, entertain…but we know the opposite is also true. It can alienate, discourage, break friendships, degrade. We know this is true because we’ve likely all felt it.

But good news! This is where your free will comes in. You have control.

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Fanny Price And Why We Dislike Her

*thoughts after reading the book; in no way academically informed. 

I just finished Mansfield Park this week, thus finally finishing all of Austen’s main novels. It only took me nine years, but we got there.

Mansfield Park is pretty notorious for being long, slow, and its heroine, Fanny Price, incredibly lackluster to say the least. I started this book five years ago, but couldn’t for the life of me continue. I watched the movie adaption (because Jonny Lee Miller), but I felt comfortable in agreeing with the general dislike towards this insufferable book.

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Did You Know: It’s OK to Be Happy

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Are you a driven go-getter, a self-motivated individual who is always ready for the next challenge? Do you follow productivity icons like Jasmine Star and Gary Vaynerchuk whose daily messages are HUSTLE, GRIND, RINSE, REPEAT? Are you getting excited because you’re reading this like a job posting? Then this message is for you.

Daily, you and I are bombarded with messages inciting us to want more. Take a look at the apps on your phone. How many of them help us compare our jobs, productivity, relationships, lifestyle, bodies, etc. with that of our peers? Maybe we can count those apps on our fingers, but can we count how much time they take up in our day or how much space its effects take up in our minds and hearts?

Because there is already so much content towards inciting the hustle and because you already agreed you are a self-motivated individual, I wanted to tell you something new. Bear with me because it goes against other voices out there. Ready?

It’s enough. It’s okay to stop. It’s okay to be content right where you are. It’s okay to be happy now.

Our society has somehow twisted our perspective. We brag about stress and sleepless nights, trying to outdo each other with tales of how busy we are. If you don’t have anxiety, are you really trying hard enough? Doing enough? If you’ve never fought depression, are you really pushing yourself?

“It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.” – Brené Brown

Maybe you don’t have the job you or your family always dreamed you would, but does what you’re doing right now give you fulfillment and peace? Does it give you time for play and self-care? Then it’s enough.

Maybe your family doesn’t look like what you thought it would by now, but are you surrounded by people who support and love you? Then it’s enough.

Maybe you haven’t traveled or aren’t as worldly as others seem, but do you know all the best things to do and order at the hidden gems in your own town? Then it’s enough.

Maybe your body doesn’t look a certain way, but can it move, heal, and give you the pleasure of seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling…thinking? Then it’s enough.

Let enough be enough. We need to allow ourselves contentment and not attach to it the ill connotations associated with “settling”. We cannot get so caught up in the pursuit of happiness that we never allow ourselves to arrive at the destination. Happiness is now! It’s today or never.

Take a deep breath and firmly believe: What I am doing right now is enough. I can allow myself happiness.

It is enough to work part-time or to have a side hustle in addition to your 9-5. It is enough to have many friends or only a few. It is enough to travel or to stay in. It is enough to create content, and it’s enough to consume it.

Smile and affirm: What I am doing right now is enough. I can allow myself happiness.

It’s okay to have found your calling by 18. It’s okay to not have found it by 50. It’s okay to be getting that post-grad, and it’s okay to be getting your GED. It’s okay to be single, to be happily married and child-free, or to be planning for baby number x.

Do not stifle the happiness created now with comparisons to what others are doing or to what a different you could be doing.

Think about it: now is all we have. Let’s spend it happy.